Pakistani street-foods are the ultimate in sweet, salty, and sour deliciousness. I am a huge fan of chaat and when I miss the taste of chaat I usually opt for this version with potatoes and chickpeas. In these hot summer months, it’s the perfect light snack. The temperature is scorching hot and I feel so very lethargic that I just want to make something easy. I no longer have the patience to stand in front of the stove and sweat, even in air conditioning.
I last went to Pakistan for my wedding shopping, I haven’t been back since due to schedules and the like. But, the thing I miss most, besides family, of course, is the street food. My mom, my aunt, and I went crazy during my wedding shopping, getting my bridal dresses, jewelry, and the various other outfits. Despite all the rush and chaos, we could calm down with a bowl of chaat practically everyday. Sitting on a rickety chair with an even ricketier table at a street vendor, we would just relax with our chaat. The scorching sun in the market, the pollution from traffic and rickshaws, the fan that was blowing around hot air didn’t even phase us. It was our time to unwind. Let me tell you, wedding preparations are stressful.
Now that I’m way beyond my newlywed days and back to reality, I have the responsibility of making the chaat. As we have established before my husband is good for nothing in the kitchen. Thankfully, chaat is simple and pantry-friendly. I always have potatoes and chickpeas on hand. I don’t think my household would run without them. The tamarind chutney adds the right amount of tang. I love tamarind, I love tamarind candies coated in chaat masala. I am salivating just thinking about them. (You can get similar candies in Mexican/Latin American grocery stores). My chutney recipe isn’t 100% authentic because I make mine in 5 minutes. The real version is slowly simmered on a stove all day and I haven’t learned how to make it yet. My shortcut chutney is just fine for the time being. Chaat is a nice departure from usual summer fare and could also be considered a salad of sorts. You don’t even need to go to Pakistan to try it, but I must admit, even though mine is pretty tasty, it is not even close to Pakistani chaat.
Potato and Chickpea “Chaat” with Tamarind Chutney
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1-2 medium-sized potatoes, boiled until tender and then peeled and cut into a small dice
1/2 a medium-sized red onion, finely chopped
1 long green chili, finely chopped (seeds and ribs removed for less spicy)
1 tomato, finely chopped, optional
1/4 bunch of cilantro chopped (use as much as you like)
a few mint leaves, optional
chaat masala, (as much as you like, I like to add a lot, about 1 tablespoon, you can find it in Indian/Pakistani grocery stores, I use Shan brand)
for the Tamarind Chutney:
2 heaping teaspoons of tamarind paste
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chaat masala
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (as much as you like)
1 tablespoon raw sugar
First, make the chutney by combining all the ingredients for the chutney in a small saucepan on medium heat and melt the tamarind until it becomes liquidy, about 5 minutes. If your chutney is thick, thin it out with some water. Chill for an hour.
Next, combine all the ingredients for the chaat; the chickpeas, potatoes, red onion, green chili, tomatoes (optional), cilantro, mint (optional), and chaat masala. Check for salt. I don’t add salt because the chaat masala already has it in it. I got ahead of myself and mixed in the tamarind chutney with the chickpeas, usually I just drizzle some on top of the chickpeas. If you would like you can mix the chutney in with the chickpeas as I did here. Chill the chaat for an hour in the refrigerator. Some people like to drizzle on thinned out yogurt on top as well. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a sprinkling of chaat masala.